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Hercule Pierre

A personal letter from P. Dansereau, living at Belle Vue in Espirito Santo, to his brother-in-law, George Lanaux of New Orleans, displayed the muted enthusiasm of a man undertaking a new venture.5 This French family was very close-knit and it had been a major step to separate and begin a new life. Dansereau expressed his desire to have his wife's brother join him in Brazil but also warned that his wishes might be too strongly expressed and that his urgings could lead to disasters Then the letter included a more optimistic section:

I am still under the same impression that he who has capacities will find in the course of twelve to fifteen months a chance to work with success and advantage. But what everyone doesn't have, is the patience to await this chance; all those who come here make a few visits in the neighborhood of Rio, stay from one to three months, then go away satisfied that there's nothing to be done in Brazil, It's true for those people, who want to go American-style  (in a hurry;) let them not come here; it's the

biggest folly they could commit.

H. P Dansereau   -  Biography

Dansereau, Hercules, M. D., of Thibodaux, Lafourche parish, is a retired practitioner, still retaining to a remarkable extent the exercise of his mental and physical faculties, at the patriarchal age of 82 years.  The blood of the pioneer French colonists of Canada which flows through his veins has endowed him with that sturdiness of constitution for which the early settlers were noted.  Peter Dansereau was the first of the name to come to America, from France, about the year 1700, locating near Montreal, Canada, where many of the family still reside.

Hercules Dansereau was born in the province of Quebec, May 2, 1832, the son of Joseph Dansereau, merchant, born at Vercheres, Canada, in 1797, died 1888; his wife, Rosalie (Chagnon) Dansereau, also a native of Vercheres (1800), died at Vercheres in 1875.  After receiving his primary and grammar school education at home, the subject of this sketch entered Montreal college, where he remained 7 years.  Next he studied for three years in the College of Physicians & Surgeons, of Montreal, now Laval university, and then, for one year, studied in the College of Medicine, Albany, N. Y., graduating in 1853.  During the latter year, Dr. Dansereau came to New Orleans, followed the clinics and lectures at the  Charity hospital for a few months, and went to

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the town of Pointe-a-la-Hache, in the parish of Plaquemines, where he practiced medicine until 1858 when he moved to Thibodaux.  The town was then in its infancy, in the midst of a sparsely-settled region, and surrounded by woods.  On account of the limited population of Thibodaux, the doctor extended his practice to all parts of the surrounding country, sometimes traveling many miles in fair and in bad weather to hasten to the relief of his fellow-citizens. 
Dansereau believed that such individuals would fail in Brazil because they would never find what they sought, "the recovery of their fortune with all its gratifications Determination was the necessary attitude in order to succeed (and pecuniary assets were of considerable help).

A "sugar man" from New Orleans, unidentified by Mr. Dansereau, had constructed a refining factory using a "sulfuerls" process, about which he had consulted George Lanauxo Although the sugar manufactured was of fine quality, it did not appeal to the Brazilians. Despite this temporary failure, the "sugar man" had purchased a fazienda* on the Machahe River there, at the time of Dansereau's letter, he was full of hope and "confident of successHis hopes encouraged Mr. Dansereau.

George Lanaux -was assured that, should he decide to migrate to Brazil, his family would exert itself to insure his success. He was warned however, that with few exceptions the women (including his sister, Oneida Dansereau) were very difficult to satisfy and tended to nag their husbands.

The settler then explained that his harvest of sugar cane was fine and that his sugar factory was under cons-truction. He thanked providence for having made him "sufficiently detest the Yankees to give him the courage to go away from them and to Brazil." Mr. Dansereau could see no hope for the United States. He felt there would always be taxes, which evidently bothered him greatly« He wrote:

I don't glimpse any happiness and tranquilities for the United States^ The good time is past. If the Democrat^ return to power, it will be desireable to take away the right of suffrage from the Negroes, then race war, there will be committed abominations that will further ruin the country, it will be only in ten and probably twenty years that one will arrive at an organization or system of work.

He predicted that such work as could be done at the end of a period of violence would be in the manner of the peasants of Europe working on tiny plots of sub-divided land.

A final work requested that Lanaux send his aging mother to Brazil to be with her daughter in the late months of her pregnancy and to provide the old woman the opportunity to live in a happy land where she might "show her prayers to the little blacks" and be mocked by the parrot.

During the same period, January I868, a letter was written to George Lanaux by his brother Adrian. Adrian charged George with the responsibility of family monies and commended him on success in some unstated new business „ He said that he was unable to find workers to help with his harvest, but that he was planning to deal with a Mr. Emlle Fredinl, who would provide workers, presumably Italians. If he was unable to obtain these helpers^ Adrian was in fear that he would be forced into the embarrassing position of hiring Negroes. He had threshed several barrels of rice for which he had no market» He was worried about repaying a man who had loaned him money for provisions and arranged with his brother to send money for sugar houses which he hoped to sell. Perhaps George had also helped to finance his brother's operations« From a postscript on the letter, information was revealed which indicated that George owned sections of land near his family and was in the market to sell them. A Mr, Thompson and a Colonel Barrow were interested in buying half of some of his bottomland for growing rice.


Again in the summer of I869,  Dansereau wrote his brother-in-law in New Orleans. The mood of the letter indicated a considerable change from that of the January 1868 epistle. During the intervening months, the Dansereau family had lost their fifteen months old daughter, Marie, the victim of a brain Infection. Oneida Dansereau's health had failed, but another baby had been born on the seventeenth of July and her husband hoped that the new little girl would help to dispel Oneida's grief and ill health. Mr, Dansereau himself had suffered long spells of fever and exhaustion. A happy note was the mention of the marriage of Dansereau's eldest son, Cevy, to a Miss Boudreau. Another son, Henri, had plans to return to the United States and then to Canada, to bring his sister to Brazil. Mr. Dansereau thought that Henri would visit Louisiana and perhaps Adrian, who evidently had returned to the South, would join the party again, accompanying the children on their journey to Brazil.

Concerning this business, Mr„ Dansereau admitted that he had acquired a partner who was not dependable. Although Dansereau had many assets^ such as fine sugar cane and a large sugar house, he was unable to obtain credit because of the way the contract had been drawn by his Brazilian partner. He had found another man to take the place of his partner, but the partner refused to relinquish his position, thinking that Mr. Dansereau would be able to turn their association into a profitable venture. When creditors began to press, Mr. Dansereau was able to rid himself of  "a man, mean, miserly and ambitious as are generally the people of his race." This move meant abandoning all of his fazlendas, at a great loss. Later, Dansereau bought three faziendas, each of which had a sugar house, plus l80 slaves, 190 draft-oxen, and crops ready to harvest. A new partner was acquired for the enterprise, a man named J. B. Rodocanache, who had businesses in New York and New Orleans.

If less exuberant than in earlier months, Mr^ Dansereau still had faith in his future. He did seem most dis-couraged concerning the character of the Brazilian businessmen; "I don't yet know one single Brazilian who had helped an emigrant from the South of the United States^ although they admit that their methods are infinitely superior to those of the people of the country." Still, Dansereau found the country "beautiful and good," And again he repeated that the man who expects to succeed must have determination.

He mentioned that a steamer, the Guerriere, transported duped Americans back to the United States a few days previous to the writing of his letter. He said that he had seen so many people disappointed that he could no longer encourage anyone to move to Brazil, but for himself, he was satisfied. Dansereau felt that general conditions in Brazil were more favorable for his family than they would have been In Louisiana.

The good feelings would not last.  Pierre would return to his practice in Thibodeaux, Louisiana.

The Dansereau Home in Thibodeaux









It appears that the house began in the 1840's as a 1 story central hall plan building with four large rooms on the ground floor. In the 1870's a second floor of a similar plan was added, along with a two tier gallery on all four sides. The house and galleries were surmounted by a massive mansard roof with a cupola. A new staircase was built to run from the first floor to the third floor mansard garret.

When the present owners took over the property, they made several changes. 1.) They
removed all the fireplaces and chimneys. 2.) They enlarged the living room and the dining room on the ground floor by moving the interior walls toward the rear of the house. The only exterior change that was made was the installation of an elevator on the rear gallery.

The main block of the house is constructed of brick with brick partition walls When the ground floor partition walls were moved, steel beams were inserted above the ceiling to bear the weight of the walls above. The lower tier of the gallery is constructed of brick arches and piers with wood columns on the upper tier. The roof structure is wholly of timber; the shingles have been replaced.

Aside from the Second Empire mansard roof and projecting frontal pavilion, the exterior is mainly articulated with pattern book Italianate details. These include the double arched windows in the dormers, the chamfered columns with brackets in the upper gallery and the combination of arches and piers in the lower gallery. They also include the octagonal cupola with its round arches, wooden voussoirs, brackets and multi-gable roof.

In contrast to the exterior, the interiors are plain. The only decorative features are Greek Revival shoulder molded doors on the ground floor, and a heavy newel post. Because the interiors are not a major source of significance, the interior modifications are of little consequence. In spite of the addition of the exterior elevator and pool shed, the front and sides of the house are not blocked or altered in any way. In any case, the galleries of the rear facade form such a strong pattern that the elevator is not obvious.


BUILDER/ARCHITECT Dr. James Scudday-Henri Thiberge


The Dansereau House is a fine example of a substantial Louisiana residence of the second half of the 19th century. This can be seen in its two story central hall plan, its surrounding galleries, and in its Italianate features. The Dansereau House is particularly noteworthy because the design incorporates a Second Empire mansard roof. The Second Empire never gained real popularity in Louisiana as it did in the North. As a result, the Dansereau House is one of a very few houses in the state with a mansard roof.

Of the historic houses in Thibodaux, the Dansereau House is by far the largest and
grandest. It stands as a well known local landmark and is visible for many blocks.
Finally, the major portion of the Dansereau House was designed by the noted New Orleans architect, Henri Thiberge, who later formed a partnership with Henry Howard. Thiberge also designed the New Orleans Real Estate Exchange and the Leather-Buck House.

The History Of The Dansereau House.

The Dansereau House - circa 1840 and 1870 - is in the national register of historic places and was developed and renovated by Jim and Joan Rogers in 1996 in conjunction with local investors. The home was first a story and a half cottage and was purchased by the Dansereau's, a group of French Canadian doctors, in 1852.

After the civil war, the Dansereau family added the upper floors and gallery. The house served as both home and clinic to several of the Dansereau family. The outdoor kitchen was used as a pharmacy..

The home is unique in that it is a combination of Italianate and second empire architecture with a mansard roof, attic and cupula.

The Dansereau's, Pierre, Hercule and François and other members of the family practiced medicine in the house until the early 1940's.

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